Voters will determine “mansion tax” fate tomorrow
Following the end of early voting Saturday, 16,249 residents have cast ballots in tomorrow’s local election—15.5% of eligible voters. Of them, according to the Santa Fe County Clerk’s tracking site, 11.7% utilized early voting, while 3.8% cast absentee ballots. Polls open at 7 am tomorrow and stay open until 7 pm, with polling locations across the county; voters can cast ballots at any polling locations and are not restricted by their districts. The ballot will include candidates in all four Santa Fe City Council races; proposed amendments to the city’s charter; and bond and mill levy questions for Santa Fe Public Schools. A proposed 3% excise tax to help fund affordable housing has emerged as a key issue in for city voters this year’s election. The tax would apply to sellers purchasing residential real estate costing more than $1 million, and only to the portion over $1 million. United for Affordable Housing, a pro-tax PAC, recently released a new video explaining the tax starring comedian Carlos Medina. Polling last month showed 66% of Santa Fe city voters favor the proposal, which has faced opposition and a legal challenge from the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. Proceeds from the tax would benefit the Santa Fe Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Proposals like the excise tax are gaining popularity, the Associated Press reports, in response to a nationwide housing crisis. “We’re looking at these high-value homes that are being bought and sold,” Samantha Waxman, a deputy director for state fiscal policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tells the AP. “Then there’s also these challenges with affordable housing, housing prices increasing in general, and it being really difficult to afford rent and difficult to afford purchasing.” Read SFR’s endorsements here; the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County’s guide can be found here.
NM struggles to meet transgender care needs
In March 2023, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act, protecting both abortion and transgender health care in the state. While abortions in the state have increased significantly, data shows, following the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, a new report shows demand for transgender health care in the state also has risen since HB7 went into effect. A new report from KFF Health News documents the chasm between resources and needs for transgender health care services here. Many, the report says, have moved to New Mexico to seek such care as other states move toward restricting access. “But those new arrivals have found that trans-friendly laws don’t necessarily equate to easy access. Instead, they find themselves added to ever-growing waitlists for care in a small state with a long-running physician shortage,” the story notes. Specifically, the US Department of Health and Human Services designated part or all of 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties as health professional shortage areas, and a 2022 report said the state had lost 30% of its physicians in the previous four years. “I feel really excited and proud to be here in New Mexico, where it’s such a strong stance and such a strong refuge state,” Molly McClain, a family medicine physician and medical director of the Deseo clinic, which serves transgender youth at the University of New Mexico Hospital, tells KFF Health News. “And I also don’t think that that translates to having a lot more care available.”
NM touts “no fee November” for college applicants
While most New Mexico colleges and universities have no fees to apply, those that do will waive the fees as part of National College Application Month throughout November. Both the state’s Higher Education and K-12 departments promoted the waived fees in a news release, and pointed to research showing that students’ likelihood of attending college increases in probability in proportion to how many applications they complete. The state also noted the nearly 7% enrollment increase over the last two years since the enactment of the Opportunity Scholarship. “We are thrilled that our higher education partners were able to make ‘No Fee November’ happen again this year for college applicants,” Grace Tackman, assistant vice president at the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation, says in a statement. “Eliminating even the smallest barrier is extremely helpful in getting our future college goers into post-secondary education. This can help make a big difference in putting people onto the trajectory that can change their lives and help forge a better New Mexico. I’m proud of each of our colleges and universities that once again chose to join us in this endeavor this month.”
AG hosts second public safety summit
“We need to make a generational commitment to addressing the root causes of crime if we hope to solve the generational challenge of building a safer community,” AG Raúl Torrez said on Friday as he hosted a second summit focused on public safety and the ways in which it has been impacted by mental and behavioral health issues. “As a career prosecutor, I know that most of the violent crime we see on our streets today has its roots in child abuse and neglect, intergenerational trauma and substance abuse, and I believe that the development of a well-resourced and coordinated strategy to address these issues is the most effective form of crime prevention over the long term,” Torrez said. The summit in Bernalillo County included participants in the public safety sector—such as detention centers—as well as those from public and behavioral health facilities. “We need to not make it hard for people to get services,” Dominic Cappello, co-founder of New Mexico State University’s Anna, Age Eight Institute, says in a statement. “In this state, it seems like behavioral health and physical health are siloed. There are  basic services that our communities need to thrive and giving them those services in one space is key, that way we don’t burden those who need services the most.”
Halloween may be in the rearview mirror, but Splice & Splatter, a new film podcast from George RR Martin’s Highgarden Entertainment, is just getting started. Described as a “film podcast where classic horror meets modern gore,” hosts Al LaFleur and Siena Sofia Bergt will share “behind-the-scenes facts, pull back the curtain on movie making tricks of the trade, talk with various special guests and spill a ton of other gory details as they share their love of the horror movie genre.” Find the first three episodes on a variety of listening platforms here, and full-length video episodes are now available through Patreon.
ICYMI, on Friday, Google commemorated Native American Heritage Month with a daily “Doodle” in honor of Chiricahua Apache artist Allan Haozous (Houser). Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Houser moved to Santa Fe when he was 20 years old to start painting at the Santa Fe Indian School. According to his biography, he changed his name from Haozous to Houser while at the school, at the “suggestion” of the school’s administrators. He had his first solo painting exhibition in 1937 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. He later joined the newly-established Institute of American Indian Arts, where he founded the school’s sculpture department. The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) Allan Houser Art Park features several of his works; the Houser Sculpture Garden and Gallery in Santa Fe County exhibits more than 70 “monumental” works, while the inside gallery has hundreds of paintings and drawings, as does the downtown gallery. His work can be seen at cities across the world and in museums such as the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Albuquerque-based Lynnette Haozous (Taos Pueblo, San Carlos Chiricahua Apache and Diné) created the Doodle, and says in an interview, she “drew inspiration from Mr. Houser’s bronze Apache sculptures, and the story of seeing these in person when I was young. I also used reference photos of him working on huge sculptures and seeing how he looked at his pieces with such a fierce concentration but a deep reverence for his creations.”
Hungry for Santa Fe
Eater weighs in on Santa Fe’s 23 “essential restaurants,” noting that the city is “arguably the capital of Southwestern culinary tradition,”and “a bastion of fine dining stalwarts famed for gastronomy centered on seasonal ingredients.” Ain’t it the truth. Props to Eater for including the Mine Shaft Tavern on its list, which it describes as “both a local bar grub staple and a biker outpost,” where one can procure a “mad chile burger…topped with both fried and chopped hatch chiles, aged cheddar, and chipotle dijonnaise.” Madrid’s Java Junction also gets a shout-out, along with Santa Fe Brewing Company, Second Street Brewery and Rowley Farmhouse Ales. Lest one think Eater overly preoccupied with coffee shops and gastropubs, the list also runs the gamut to include spots that “blend influences from around the world with local tastes,” such as Paper Dosa and Sazón.
Weather for all
The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with high temperatures reaching the high 60s—maybe even the low 70s. Given above-normal temperatures, high winds and low humidity, NWS says portions of the state will experience critical fire weather today and tomorrow, followed by a chance for snow starting Wednesday.